NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Dozens of University of Oklahoma students marched today in support of Julius Jones and to reach out to Governor Kevin Stitt, just over a week before the death-row inmate’s execution date.
“I’m not free!” chanted the leaders of OU’s Black Emergency Response Team (BERT). “Until Julius is free!” the protestors chanted in response.
“It is really and truly and honestly up to us to save an innocent man’s life! If you believe that he’s innocent, it’s time to act now,” yelled D’India Brown, the director of BERT at the gathering.
Julius Jones is on death row and is set to be executed on November 18th.
The 40-year-old is convicted of Paul Howell’s 1999 murder. The Edmond businessman was gunned down in the driveway of his parent’s home, right in front of his young daughters.
“When we pulled up in the driveway and stopped,” said Rachel Howell. “I looked over and saw Julius Jones walking up to the car. He shot my dad, and I watched my dad’s head go like that. That is the vision that I have every night is my dad’s head falling to the right.”
Last week at his clemency hearing, Jones told the Pardon and Parole Board they had the wrong guy.
“I was not present during this robbery and I did not know that anyone had been killed until the day after Mr. Howell was murdered,” said Jones.
“In order to believe any of Julius Jones’s stance of innocence you have to basically ignore every fact and every single amount of physical evidence and every testimony and every witness presented by the state,” said Brian Howell, Paul Howell’s brother.
The board voted 3-1 to recommended clemency, but it falls on Governor Kevin Stitt to make the final call.
In Norman on Monday, protestors said they felt a personal connection with Jones as they’re the same age and at the same university he was at the time of his arrest.
“I’m in the same scholarship group that he was in when he came here,” said Devin Brown, an OU Student.
“What if that was my brother?” asked Te’a Williams, another student.
That’s why the students ended their march by contacting the governor.
“Write to him, email him, call him, his office and let him know the pressure is here at OU and we’re watching,” said the BERT director.
“I wrote a letter to Governor Stitt calling to action. do something about this, you claim you’re for justice you appointed these people on the board to fight for justice. Fight for justice for this man,” said Williams.
“I think as pro-life as you can be is preventing the murder of another citizen in the state,” said Brown.
Senator Carrie Johnson also showed up to the event, to give the students some pointers on their letters.
“I’m proud of them just for trying. This is about speaking up for what is important to you and expecting your elected official to pay attention,” she said. “It’s not right for us to kill others to show that killing is wrong.”
The BERT told KFOR OSU students also held a march in support of Jones at their campus as well.